Need more Bernard Berrian?
Jump in. Here is a transcript of the press conference held in Winter Park, Minn., Saturday night introducing him as the Vikings' $42 million man.
Head Coach Brad Childress: OK, a couple of things before I introduce Bernard Berrian to you. This really ends up being a tremendous collaborative effort here, whether it starts with our travel people coordinating this whole thing. I can't say enough about the effort that Rick Spielman and George Paton, as well as Jeff (Robinson) and Ryan Monnens and Scott Kuhn have done and filtered through this pro personnel. Obviously the coaches have their hand in that as well, and then Dave Blando and Rob Brzezinski sitting there and hammering it out. I sat in there and listened today and I get more nervous in doing some of that stuff than I do standing on the sideline for Pete's sake. I had to get up and walk out a couple of times. Like I said, a tremendous collaborative effort and I would be remiss in not mentioning the Wilfs as I always do about their ability to spend, quite frankly. You've got to have the willingness to want to be good. They trust us to identify those people and then Rob and Dave and Rick to hammer out a great deal. I'm grateful for all of those people, and as I mentioned, it's a good team. Then a few words about Bernard Berrian; i, a, n, you know there is a large Armenian population in Fresno, some of you may or may not know. Bernard is not Armenian however with the i, a, n at the end of his name. We talked about heritage last night, right? We had a great visit here and had to keep him busy all day long with video games, etc., a lot of different things going through his head. On a more serious note, I'm very excited to have Bernard. Being able to watch him up close here over the last four years and grow, we've watched his receiving total grow each in every year. A little known fact about him, he is a tremendous return guy. Not that we'll use him in that area, but he's led the country before in the return game at Fresno State, both punt and kickoff return, so that's a little added bonus. Then I've gotten a chance to see him compete at a very high level, and competes are what it's all about. I'll answer some questions afterward, but I'm very excited to introduce you to Bernard. It's always nice to be able to take somebody from a divisional opponent in Chicago and make them weaker and make you stronger. Without further ado, Bernard.
Bernard Berrian: I'd like to thank you guys for coming out and allowing you to speak to you. I'd like to thank the organization, Rick, the coaches, the Wilfs for allowing me the opportunity to have a chance to play here and try to make big things happen here and bring a Super Bowl to this team.
Q: Obviously the Bears wanted to keep you, but what was it about the Vikings that made you want to come here?
A: I just saw the upside that was here going on with the team. I think they've got a great defense. Both lines, the defensive line and the offensive line are great. They've got a great running back which we all know. I think just the key part they were missing was a receiver out there to take some pressure off of that running game. If you get both of those parts added in there, it's hard to stop. Which one you are going to choose? It's hard to stop. Pick your poison is basically what is going on. I think it's a great offense, what they've been telling me, what they're going to try to do with me and my role. I definitely saw my role expanding here as opposed to being in Chicago I wasn't really quite sure if it was or not. I just weighed my options out and made the right decision.
Q: You had some other teams interested and you had a long stay here. Did it ever get frustrating for you?
A: Oh yeah, it definitely got frustrating. Like (Coach) said, he had to leave the room a couple of times and Coach would go, 'Get on the phone with him. Go get on the phone with him.' But there was definitely interest from other teams. It was just weighing out your options and seeing what is the best fit for you. It's not all the time all about the money. It is in some ways, but it's not always just about the money. It's got to be the right fit because I had other teams that were going to throw out some large amounts of money, but I wasn't sure that was the right place for me to end up at.
Q: Did you get close to taking that second trip to what I believe was Oakland?
A: It kind of in a way did, but really didn't. We weren't really going to go unless it was really, really something substantial to really get us to go there.
Q: How big of an advantage is it for you to stay in the division?
A: It's definitely an advantage. I kind of know what I'm walking into when I get here. Playing here, it's great. The fans are great in the stadium. We were talking about it last night; I said this is one of the loudest stadiums to play in in our division, and you've got to thank the fans for that. They are great. Just knowing Chicago, I know what I get when we we're going against them so I know how to work my ways around that.
Q: Are you prepared to be the number one receiver and get the most attention?
A: Yeah, I've definitely been prepared for that. I wanted that last year to be that number one guy. The numbers kind of came out that way but I wasn't actually the first read in our offense. It just worked out that way, and a lot of times I did receive a lot of the attention as the season progressed. I received a lot of attention with safety help over the top a lot as our running game started to struggle, so that's what I'm hoping to bring here. Either you back the safeties up, back people out of the box, or you stack them up and we go over the top.
Q: You have seen this offense with Adrian Peterson and Chester Taylor running the ball, but how is your blocking?
A: I'm not the greatest blocker, I'm not going to lie, but that's what practice is for. We're going to go out there and we're going to work at it and I'm going to work at it to get better. I'm definitely willing to throw my body in there and block. I'm not the type of receiver that is going to just sit there and (give) just lackluster effort. I'm definitely going to go out there and give my full effort.
Q: Was it frustrating in Chicago to have all of the instability at quarterback?
A: I think just having the instability; at times it wasn't that hard because you kind of were almost expecting it but at times it was definitely hard not knowing because the game plan changes with each quarterback. It definitely changes a lot, and trying to be a focal point in the offense when things are changing that much, it's hard to get things accomplished.
Q: What do you like about what you have seen from Tarvaris Jackson?
A: He definitely has a strong arm. He can get the ball down the field, so there is no need to worry about that. From what they are telling me he is a very smart quarterback and he's got the capability to learn further. I see only upside to him and I only see him getting better as we go. I think that's one thing, he's a young player too so he's only going to get better with experience. I think that's where we're all going to help out each other. He's going to make me better, I'm going to make him better, the running game is going to make us better, the passing game is going to make us better. We're all going to work together so we can be that entire team unit.
Q: What would we see from you if we were watching you on tape?
A: The nastiest player ever (laughter in background). I'm serious.
Q: Was it tempting to do the whole free agent circuit and visit other teams?
A: It is. It is very tempting to go out and see what other teams have to offer and check out their facilities and meet the coaches and see how they are, how they react to you and how you react to them. When you get to a place and you know that it's the right decision, you've got to go with it and you've got to go with your gut feeling. Most of the time as an athlete your gut feeling is pretty much the right one.
Q: How impressed were you by them sending a plane for you?
A: I was definitely impressed with that. The Wilfs, they sent that out there. It was my first time on one, and I was kind of shocked that the flight was so smooth and it was definitely faster. I asked the pilot, 'How much does one of these cost?' He told me and I was like, gosh, I really want one but I can't afford that one.
Q: Do you remember the times you ran at the combine?
A: I think one I ran a 4.57. Yeah, 4.57 I think on one round. A 4.53, and then on my pro day I ran a 4.47 I want to say. I'm a lot faster now in the 40 though, definitely.
Q: Did you get any better offers than the Vikings' offer?
A: The Raiders were definitely in the ballpark. The structure was different, but it was definitely even.
Q: How big was the quarterback situation here to you? Did they assure you there would be stability?
A: Definitely it's always an important part. You can't do anything if you don't have the ball, someone to get you the ball. You can't do anything if you aren't getting open in the first place. They assured me there was definitely going to be stability here. I didn't have to worry about that or anything of that nature. It's just coming in here and getting a chance to workout so we can get that competitive nature together going together and get on a roll and get a rhythm established and start to work.
Q: What are your impressions of George Stewart?
A: So far, everyone is telling me he's a great man first of all. He's real calm and cool, and you can tell he's a players' coach. You can tell that. A lot of the other players that I've talked to that I know on the team, they've told me, relayed some of the messages to me about him. So he's a good dude. He's been in the league coaching for a long time, so he definitely has got some knowledge about the game.
Q: Who else do you know on the team?
A: Bobby Wade, Mike Doss, Mewelde Moore, Antoine (Winfield) of course. That's about it I think.
Q: Is it difficult to move within the division?
A: You've got to cut ties. I'm going to miss Chicago. I did play there for four years. That's where I started out. They gave me my shot, but you've just got to find out what is the best situation is for you. Where are you trying to go with your career? What goals do you have and what is better for you to try to move forward and achieve those goals.
Q: How strong did the Bears come after you?
A: They actually kind of shocked me. They actually were right along in it. They did, they threw out, they were real close, and were real aggressive with it. I give them praise for doing that. Jerry (Angelo), Lovie (Smith), I respect those guys, a lot of the coaches there, and a lot of my teammates there, I respect them. I'm still going to keep in contact with a lot of the players and the coaches there too.
Q: Was there a temptation to stay put just because of the comfort level?
A: Yeah, there was. There definitely was. I don't think people love to get up and move all the time and have to deal with that. You're already established there, you know what's there, you know what you are getting into, you know how everything is run there. You basically know what you are getting into. You don't have to worry about change, but sometimes change is good.
Q: Do you expect this to be a playoff team?
A: Oh yeah, definitely. I don't think I would have signed here if I didn't see that within the organization. I definitely see this team being a playoff team and definitely making a run at the Super Bowl. I mean they were pretty close last year. The Giants, for instance, they blew the Giants out of the water when they played them, so you definitely see the positives in coming to a team like this.
Q: As a receiver, how excited are you to have Adrian Peterson?
A: Oh yeah, definitely. It takes the heat off me a lot. It definitely does that. It's cohesive, it works well together.
Comments from Head Coach Brad Childress
Q: Did you feel like this was a piece that was missing in your offense?
A: Well we were just missing syncing up the passing game, and obviously good players help you to improve that. We have the running game where we want, and you don't want to be one-dimensional in this league because they can gang up on you whether you're only passing it or running it, so this will help us average that out.
Q: Did you talk to Adrian Peterson after this move was official?
A: No, but I got a lot of free advice from some other guys. These guys that do this for a living, I told Pat (Williams) and Antoine (Winfield) here in the last hour, I get a lot of free advice from them. You hear the term weekend warrior; those guys that do it for a living are kind of like weekend GMs, so I gave them an opportunity last week to come in and put their GM hat on. Of course they wouldn't make a peep, but they have no problem text messaging me and giving me free advice, but as I've told you before, I get lots of free advice.
Q: Did Antoine give you a good scouting report on Bernard?
A: He did; he gave me a good scouting report. At dinner last night we were talking about double moves. I was sitting next to someone and we were discussing double moves, and he started laughing. He said, 'Coach, I…' and I said, 'Don't tell me, you need to talk to (Bernard).' He talked to him last night and was able to get with him last night.
Q: What has impressed you about him as a wide receiver?
A: Well I think that he can stretch the field and that people have to honor his ability to get up the field and make plays up the field. With that said, he has the ability to work all those short and intermediate zones as well.
Q: Is there a number one receiver in your system?
A: Well, it's not like basketball where you have a one, two, three, four and five. We're typically playing with two and a lot of times three, sometimes one receiver, but again, I see him as a number one type guy, yes.
Q: You've been aggressive on the first couple days of free agency. How high are your expectations for this season at this point?
A: We've been working all day long; you'll have to catch me down the road, I think, on that one. I'll let you guys do that. But certainly we had expectations coming out of last year and with guys getting better, we'll have expectations.
Q: Have you seen a shift in the last year or so with guys wanting to come here to play for the Vikings?
A: Well I think you can speak to Rick and Rob and the guys that speak a good bit to the agents, but my sense in getting things back from them is that yeah, this place is on the upswing and it is a place or destination that people would like to come to. That's at least how we feel.
Q: Can you offer any insight on the defensive end position?
A: Yeah, I don't know that I have much insight right now. We're continuing to sift through things, if you will. We spent some time today going back through who's out there and whether we address it through free agency or the draft. We'll end up addressing it, but it's an ongoing process. It doesn't stop, and as I've mentioned before, I try to make this team better every day that I come into this building, as are a bunch of these guys, so it won't stop.
Q: What is your best selling point for guys to come here?
A: Well Bernard was telling me he really appreciates the change in seasons that Fresno really isn't able to afford him out there and about his affinity for how beautiful the new snowfall that we had last night was. He's not a big ice fisherman; he is a fisherman, however. Just the spring time, the beauty. He talked to you about the fans and the stadium, how noisy it can be and what a great place to play it is. I'm not being facetious when I say the attraction is that this team is a team on the rise. I think people see it that way, and sometimes when you get out of the metropolitan area here as we've been able to do through the combine and you see your peers in the business, you feel it palpably through those guys what their sense is.